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    Want to expand and diversify your guitar skills and repertoire?

    Guitar World's new 50 Expert Guitar Licks DVD helps you do it with great guitar phrases written and presented by some of the biggest virtuosos in rock, metal, shred, prog, fusion and other styles, including Joe Satriani, Marty Friedman, Alex Skolnick, Gus G and Guitar World's own resident expert, senior music editor Jimmy Brown.

    Each lick includes tab, a written explanation to guide you through the lick and — best of all — video from the artist who created it.

    50 Expert Guitar Licks is the most comprehensive instructional course of its kind.

    Your Instructors:

    • Michael Angelo Batio
    • Jimmy Brown
    • Zane Carney (John Mayer)
    • Mike Errico
    • Marty Friedman
    • Gus G (Ozzy Osbourne)
    • Joel Hoekstra (Night Ranger)
    • Joel Kosche (Collective Soul)
    • Jeff Loomis (Nevermore)
    • Rob Math (Leatherwolf)
    • Gary Potter
    • Glenn Proudfoot
    • Dave Reffett
    • Joe Satriani
    • Alex Skolnick (Testament)
    • Andy Timmons

    '50 Essential Expert Licks' is available now at the Guitar World Online Store for $14.95.

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    Two of the most essential techniques for all aspiring guitarists to master are string bending and vibrato.

    The electric guitar affords us the opportunity to express musical statements that can evoke and rival the sound and qualities of the human voice, with string-bending and vibrato techniques as the primary elements necessary to achieve vocal-like sounds and phrasing.

    In this column, I’d like to detail a few of the string-bending and vibrato techniques I use and the applications that appeal to me the most.

    You can bend a string in many ways, and I like to employ just about every method imaginable. Drawing from a variety of string-bending techniques provides me with more options for how to interpret whatever I’m playing.

    Let’s begin with a simple melody, and I’ll then demonstrate a handful of ways I might interpret it. FIGURE 1 illustrates a very simple three-note phrase in A minor, comprising the notes E (the fifth) and G (the flatted seventh) and ending with a bend from G up one whole step, to the A root note. A common approach many guitarists take is to employ a unison bend for each note, as demonstrated in FIGURE 2.

    While one note is fretted with the index finger on the B string, another is fretted with the ring finger two frets higher, on the G string, and that note is then bent up a whole step to match the pitch of the B-string note.

    If you ever hear me play this unison bend lick, please shoot me. We just don’t need another guitar player playing that way anymore. But if you like it, you should play that way; just don’t let me play that way. FIGURE 3 shows one of the many “Marty-style” options available when playing these three notes. Instead of simply fretting the first note, I place the index finger one fret lower and bend up to it from a half step below, from D# to E, then apply vibrato to the note. I then slide up to the G and execute half-step bends (and releases) between G# and A. It’s a nice alternative to simply fretting the note.

    I then move up to B and bending up a half step, to C, and then I release the bend and perform a series of quick hammer-pulls between A and G# on the B string.

    There are so many variations one could apply from here, and I’ve detailed a handful in FIGURES 4–8. I encourage you to use your musical ear and listen for variations and options that you find interesting.

    Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 1.22.07 PM.png

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    Additional Content

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    Some of you gear lovers might remember when we posted a story—or two or three—about a device called the Hammer Jammer.

    The Hammer Jammer is unique key-hammering percussive device that fits onto electric or acoustic six-string guitars, producing a different-sounding attack—something in the ballpark of a hammer dulcimer on speed.

    Our story and its video went viral, which led Ohio-based Big Walnut Productions, maker of the Hammer Jammer, to believe its product is, to say the least, ready for the guitar market.

    Now, after months of redesign and manufacturing tweaks, Big Walnut Productions has announced that the "Hammer Jammer 2015" is shipping around the world. It's also available to purchase direct from

    Several players have begun posting their own Hammer Jammer demo videos, and we've included a clip from France's Olivier Kikteff of France (bottom video). Enjoy!

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    Here's something that turned up in my inbox during my most recent vacation (I'm slowly catching up on emails and old coffee cups with disturbing things growing in them).

    It's a video of a talented eight-string guitarist, Sonia Shredder, performing a playthrough video of "Vultures," the title track from Fate's 2008 album (Metal Blade Records).

    The video, which was published to YouTube in February, features the following bonus info from Sonia:

    "This is an A-tuned six-string guitar cover that I transposed to an F# eight-string guitar and played the last section a third interval higher. Twice the fun! :)"


    • Guitar: Ibanez RGA8
    • Pickups: Seymour Duncan Distortion 8
    • DI: Line 6 Pod Farm
    • Camera: GoPro Hero3+: Silver Edition

    For more about Sonia Shredder, subscribe to her YouTube channel right here.

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    Today we're pleased to bring you a new guitar-heavy video by four talented female guitarists from the around the world.

    "Female International Rock Jam" features—in order—Larissa Basílio of Brazil, Irene Ketikidi of Greece, Anouck André of France and Laura Klinkert of Colombia jamming to a driving blues backing track.

    It was clearly shot in four different places and cut together as a single performance video.

    Only one of these players—Klinkert—has been featured on in the past. We shared her cover of Guthrie Govan's "Blues Mutations 2" last year.

    Check it out and tell us which of these guitarists deserves more coverage on the site!

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    Cigar box guitar festivals are as DIY as the homemade instruments themselves.

    Builders and performers, eager to gather, jam and share secrets are creating mini “Bonaroos for Boxes” all over the world.

    They’re a great way to spend an afternoon and are guaranteed to inspire you to create your own gear in the process. If you've never been to one, you're missing out!

    I’ve compiled a list of every cigar box guitar festival known for the "May to August 2015" season. Many are free and family friendly. Grab the kids and grab a few lawn chairs.

    Expect a wide range of styles, with a heavy focus on stomp blues, gritty folk and even a touch of punk and psychedelic rock.

    These descriptions feature only a fraction of the talent and activities for each fest. Make sure to click the links for each and get the whole skinny on each.

    A special thanks to the guys at C.B. Gitty cigar box guitar parts and kits for helping with this list.

    The 11th Annual Cigar Box Guitar Festival; $2 suggested donation

    The largest and longest-running cigar box guitar festival also features some of the best talent in the DIY movement. Headliners include Philadelphia backwoods blues duo Hymn for Her along with Microwave Dave, April Mae & The June Bugs, One Hand Dan and many more. This family-friendly event includes demonstrations and hands-on workshops, folk art, vendors, food trucks and more. Location: Lowe Mill Arts Center, 2211 Seminole Drive, Huntsville, Alabama. More info: 11th Annual Cigar Box Guitar Fest website.

    Get Rooted! Festival: A Celebration of Playable Art. $10 cover; additional $5 for optional cigar box guitar workshop

    Australia has become a hotbed for cigar box guitars and raging blues. This fest features five acts plus a 90-minute workshop. Featured bands include Nigel McTrustry & the Cigar Box Explosion and Miss Gertrude. Location: Globe Theatre, 220 Brunswick St., Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. More info: Get Rooted! Facebook event page.

    EUGENE, OREGON, June 6
    The Cigar Box Guitar Fest Northwest; free

    This family-friendly, daytime event takes place inside the Saturday Market, a handcrafted marketplace in Eugene, Oregon. Headliners include California stomp-blues trio the Budrows and International Blues Challenge winner Ben Rice. It also features Sean Hawk, Jerry Zybach, CBG Joe and Downtown Vinnie. Cigar box guitars for sale along with great food and art. Location: Eugene Saturday Market, 8th and Oak, Eugene, Oregon. More info: Northwest Fest Facebook event page.

    3rd Annual St. Louis Cigar Box Guitar Festival; free

    The St. Louis Cigar Box Guitar Fest is a great place to learn about making and playing your own cigar box guitars, all in the atmosphere of a great BBQ roadhouse bar on Highway 61! The fest kicks off the night before with guitar looping artist Justin Johnson delivering a clinic-style concert showcasing different styles of music. The Saturday event features how-to-build seminars, vendors, clinics and a show headlining concert by New Jersey’s powerhouse swing-blues band, April Mae & the June Bugs. Location: Highway 61 Roadhouse & Kitchen, 34 S. Old Orchard Ave., Webster Groves, Missouri 63119. More info: St. Louis CBG Fest website.

    Cigar Box Guitar Homecoming Show w/Hymn For Her + April Mae & The Junebugs; $15 in advance, $18 at the door

    The cigar box guitar gets pushed to its primal limits in this double-billing show at the Record Collector listening room. Swamp psychedelia duo Hymn For Her returns to their home turf after touring the world in a 1950s Airstream trailer. They’re joined by the amazing April Mae & the June Bugs. If you’re anywhere on the East Coast on this weekend, don’t miss this show. Location: The Record Collector, 358 Farnsworth Ave., Bordentown, New Jersey. More info and ticket link at the Record Collector website.

    TORONTO, OHIO, June 13
    The 4th Annual Handmade Music Extravaganza; $5 cover

    This wild Midwest festival returns with a killer lineup of swamp blues, garage rock and roots music. The Budrows will be there! Also on the bill are the Lo-Fi Project, Secret Devil Tuning and the Pussyfooters. The concert also serves as a fundraiser for Team Mojo Foundation, providing free music lessons to local underprivileged children. Location: Driftwood Smokehouse and Marina, Toronto, Ohio. More info: Handmade Music Extravaganza website.

    BIRMINGHAM, U.K., July 3 and 4
    Boxstock: The U.K. Cigar Box Guitar Festival!; free

    Taking place during the Birmingham International Jazz and Blues Festival, this annual fest is a great representation of the U.K. cigar box guitar scene. Performing in a Dr. Ross-style one-man band featuring cigar box guitar/harmonica/bass drum, Hollowbelly is a sonic blitzkrieg of a headliner. Also featuring the Godfather of the Cigar Box Guitar, Chickenbone John. Details are still being worked out, but there is talk of a cigar box guitar open mic on Friday and cigar box guitar building seminars on Saturday. Location: The Green Room Café Bar, 70 Hurst St., Birmingham, U.K. More info: The Boxstock page on Cigar Box Nation.

    TUSCANY, ITALY, July 18
    The Pistoia Blues Festival presents: The 1st Italian Cigar Box Guitar Meeting

    Italy will have its first cigar box guitar festival as part of the Pistoria Blues Festival’s side stage events! Details are still forthcoming, but interested parties can contact the Cigar Box Guitar Italia Facebook page for more information.

    ALBERT, TEXAS, August 22
    The Republic of Texas Cigar Box Guitar Fest; free

    Justin Johnson headlines this brand-new festival at the Albert Dance Hall. He will be joined by deep blues master Rev. KM Williams along with Convict Hill, My Buddy Todd and Lousy Lou. Location: The Albert Dance Hall, Albert, Texas. More info at the Texas Cigar Box Guitar Fest Facebook page.

    The Pennsylvania Cigar Box Guitar Festival; free

    The PA festival is a great event for the family and features 14 acts on two stages, vendors, food and a city-wide arts fest happening on the same day. This year’s headliners include Shane Speal and April Mae & the Junebugs. Also featuring pre-teen virtuosos, the Pennsylvania Alley Kats. There will be huge vendors market with instruments, parts and more, along with foot trucks. Location: The York Emporium, 343 W. Market St., York, Pennsylvania. More info at the PA Cigar Box Guitar Fest Facebook page.

    The 5th Annual Kansas City Cigar Box Guitar Festival; free

    This jam-packed festival features a wide variety of solo performers including Tim Covey, Jason Fox, Jason Vivone, Michael Vande, Jeff McFadden, Linda Morrison, Blind Dawg Willie and many more! The event is free. An optional guitar clinic by Justin Johnson is offered for $15. Location: Johnny’s Back Yard Bar, 1825 Buchanan St., North Kansas City, Missouri. More info at the Kansas City Cigar Box Guitar Fest website.

    Stay tuned for the fall/winter Cigar Box Guitar Fest Guide, which will be published in August 2015. There are fests coming to Chicago, Mississippi, France, Holland, the U.K. and more!

    Top photo by Kevin Stiffler

    Shane Speal is the "King of the Cigar Box Guitar" and the creator of the modern cigar box guitar movement. Hear the music, see the instruments and read about his Cigar Box Guitar Museum at Speal's latest album, Holler! is on C.B. Gitty Records.

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    I'm always fascinated by what guitarists obsess about.

    Of course, if I wasn't I wouldn't have much to write about.

    Given human (or at least guitarist) nature, these obsessions generally turn into debates, which mostly seem to fall into three categories:

    • Things that can be tested to be true or false.
    • Things that are matters of taste.
    • Things that can be shown to be true or false by simply thinking about them hard enough.

    For instance, it’s easy to test whether a 12-watt amp with an efficient speaker can be louder than a 20-watt amp with an inefficient one. Simply plug in both amps with their respective speakers, plug in your guitar, bang a chord and measure the results with an SPL (sound pressure level) meter. Debate over. The bantamweight wins.

    Other arguments come down to matters of taste and individual perception. A classic fight is whether a Les Paul or Stratocaster is better. I think we all know the answer to that one.

    But some of my favorite areas of obsession are those that don't require any equipment to prove who’s right, but can be settled just by thinking.

    Today's thought experiment involves a literal sticking point for Fender players—the neck pocket gap.

    This is the slight gap that usually shows between the neck pocket and a bolt-on neck. People mostly comment on the side gaps—probably for the simple reason that any gap at the end of the neck pocket is usually covered by the pickguard. Few notice if there’s a gap at the end. Out of sight, out of obsession.

    Folks who have an opinion on this topic generally want a tight fit between the neck and the sides of the pocket. The reasoning typically goes like this, which I lifted verbatim from a guitar discussion group:

    “Loose neck pockets don’t allow the neck and body to couple as well. This can diminish sustain and low freqs. Filling the gap or gaps so [the] neck fits tightly in the neck pocket is the only fix.”

    It's one of those things that sounds like a good idea until you think about it a little more deeply. On a bolt-neck guitar the main area of contact is along the back of the neck, where the screws that go through the body pull the neck tight against the base of the neck pocket. If the neck also touches the sides of the neck pocket, there’s an even tighter and more complete coupling. Fine as far as it goes.

    But here's where guitarists, luthiery and physics part company. Most makers allow for a bit of space along the sides of the neck pocket. That’s because unless the guitar is designed for it, if the fit along the sides of the neck pocket is tight, the neck can pull off chucks of body paint, make the neck difficult to remove, and even crack the side of the pocket as the wooden neck and body swell and contract with seasonal changes.

    Many players shift the debate at this point. They say they don't want the neck actually touching the sides of the pocket. Instead what they want is a gap, but the smallest one possible, as if the smaller the gap, the more coupled it is.
    The most often cited bit of Internet wisdom is that the gap should be wide enough for a slip of paper to fit, but not a credit card or—God forbid—a guitar pick.

    But here's the thing, if there is any gap, that part of the neck is no longer coupled. If air can fit through the gap, it doesn't terribly matter whether it's a 1/1000-inch gap or a 1/8-inch gap as far as the effect on energy transfer is concerned is concerned. Unlike a speaker that is moving so much air that it can make your living room walls vibrate from the force of the air pushing against them, the vibrations of a neck or solid body guitar are miniscule. It takes contact to transfer any noticeable string vibration.

    If that isn't obvious, here's another way to think of it. Take a tuning fork—they still make those, don't they? Touch it to the top of an acoustic guitar and hear that 440 A ring out loud. Now tap that tuning fork again, only this time hold it as close to the top of your guitar as possible but without touching the top. No matter how close you get, unless you actually touch it to the top, the tuning fork isn't coupled to the guitar and no noticeable energy is transferred.

    The upshot is, don't mind the gap. It's not necessarily a good thing for the neck to be fitted so tightly that it touches the sides of the pocket. And once there’s any gap, the amount is mainly an aesthetic choice, not an audible one.

    But if after all this, you still want your guitar neck to be mechanically coupled to the sides of the neck pocket you can devise a simple test to see if it provides any sonic merits: just take a tiny wooden shim and slide it into the gap. Does the guitar sound better? If so, leave it in. If not, take it out.

    Otherwise, just play your guitar.

    William Baeck is a writer, photographer and hack guitarist living in London. You can check out his webpage at and reach him on Facebook and Twitter.

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    In early 1990, the editors of Guitar World magazine sat back, grabbed some coffee and painstakingly selected what they considered the top 50 guitar albums of the just-ended Eighties.

    In the photo gallery below, you can see what they came up with!

    The albums are listed in order, from "killer" to "jaw-droppingly awesome." Or from 50 to 1, depending on your perspective.

    Please note that there are actually 51 albums in the gallery (There was a tie somewhere along the way).

    Don't agree with the vintage editors' vintage choices? As always, let your voice be heard! Share your opinion in the comments below or on Facebook!

    Head back to the ... past!

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    When the whole cheeky-misspelling nonsense started in the Sixties, it was cute, inspiring names like the Monkees, the Byrds, the Cyrkle and the Human Beinz.

    And after all, the psychedelic era brought with it certain liberties. It wasn’t until the Eighties that the whole misspelling idea began spiraling out of control, when hair-metal bands started twisting up their names with extra letters, missing letters, backward letters, random lowercasing and overzealous umlauting.

    Years later, nü-metal acts (who couldn’t even spell their own genre properly) mucked things up beyond all recognition. The confusion kept editors proofreading at their cubicles well into the night, and sent graphic designers prone to ducking deadlines out to even longer lunches.

    The bad news is, given today’s txt-msg and e-mail trends, we may B n 4 sum dp sht.

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    Neil Young has released the music video for "A Rock Star Bucks a Coffee Shop," the first single from his new album, The Monsanto Years.

    The video for the song, which was originally titled "Rock Starbucks," takes aim at the ubiquitous coffee chain and corporate agricultural giant Monsanto, from which the album takes its name.

    You can check it out below. As always, tell us what you think in the comments or on Facebook!

    The Monsanto Years was recorded with the Promise of the Real, a band fronted by Willie Nelson's sons Lukas and Micah, and is set for a June 29 release.

    Additional Content

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    On Saturday night, the Rolling Stones brought their Zip Code Tour to Ohio Stadium in Columbus, where they performed an excerpt of "Hang On Sloopy" for the first time in 49 years.

    "Hang On Sloopy," a massive hit for the McCoys in 1965, was a regular part of the Stones' set list in the mid-Sixties. But, since the band dropped it from their shows nearly a half century ago, the song has become the official rock song of the state of Ohio and a fixture of major sporting events throughout the state.

    As a nod to the Ohio State Buckeyes, whose football team is the main tenant of Ohio Stadium, the Stones performed a rousing rendition of the song.

    Check it out below, and let us know what you think in the comments and on Facebook!

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    Today—in the photo gallery below—we bring you "Sweet and Low: A Roundup of 15 of the Tastiest Seven- and Eight-String Axes on the Market Today," a gear feature that appears in the all-new July 2015 issue of Guitar Worldmagazine.

    We've made sure to include models for every guitarist's budget, not to mention a wide assortment of manufacturers.

    Note that these guitars are presented in no particular order.

    Remember you can click on each photo to take a closer look!

    For more information about these guitars, check out:

    Schecter Banshee Elite 8
    Schecter Hellraiser Passive 7
    Epiphone Ltd. Ed. Matt Heafy Les Paul Custom-7
    Jackson X Series SLATHXQ 3-8
    Jackson X Series SLATXM 3-7
    PRS Guitars SE Custom 24 7-String
    Caparison TAT Special 7
    Caparison Brocken 8 FX
    ESP LTD FRX-407
    ESP LTD H-408B FM
    Carvin/Kiesel SCB7
    Carvin/Kiesel Vader Series V8
    Ernie Ball/Music Man John Petrucci Artisan Majesty
    Sterling By Music Man JP170D-RRB
    Ibanez RG Prestige RG852MPB-GFB

    For more about the new July 2015 issue of GW, head to the Guitar World Online Store now.

    Top photo: Damian Fanelli (ESP LTD FRX-407 in Snow White); other photos supplied by the manufacturers

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    Kicking Harold—a band featuring Tim David Kelly (lead vocals, guitar), Bret Domrose (bass) and Michael Odabashian (drums)—consider themselves modern rock alchemists, with "modern" being the operative word.

    In fact, the first single from their latest album, Red Light District, fits that philosophy rather nicely.

    After years of unsuccessful attempts to re-release the original song, the band decided to give a 21st-century upgrade to the fan-favorite, "Kill You," a song that originally appeared on their 1996 debut album, Ugly and Festering.

    A video for “Kill You,” which features an appearance by adult film star Mary Carey, has already racked up more than 50,000 views.

    I recently spoke with guitarist Tim David Kelly about Red Light District, his gear and more.

    GUITAR WORLD: If I asked you to describe the sound of Red Light District, what would you say?

    I would say it’s a combination of all of our albums put together. There are elements of our early days when we were a little bit grungier to the more current style of where we are now. We’ve really tried to evolve the band without reducing where we’ve come from.

    What’s your songwriting process like?

    Over the years, it’s been different for every album. The last album we did was more of a personal studio project built up layer by layer. As a songwriter, I’m constantly writing. I’ll usually keep small, one-minute demos of verses, choruses and lyrics, and then when it’s time to make an album, I’ll start going through all of the different ideas to find the ones that work best.

    Let’s talk about a few tracks from Red Light District, starting with “Underneath It All."

    That’s a good example of how songs can hang around for a long time. I originally wrote that song around 2006. It was something I had worked up and played but never got around to recording. When we started looking for songs for this album, I wanted to choose something from around that time period. I really liked the riff and revamped it to what it is now. Once you hit the studio everything comes to life!

    "Drinkin’ to Forget You"

    That song was actually written with completely different lyrics. It started out as more of a love song. I had tracked the whole song and really liked the music and melody but when I was listening back, I realized the love lyrics didn’t seem to work. So I pulled them off and re-wrote the song around the opposite theme! [laughs].

    Why did you decide to do a remake of "Kill You"?

    That was originally the first single off of our very first album when we got signed. In the late Nineties our old record label let the album go out of print. So even though the song was still in rotation on radio, it was no longer available. I remember approaching the label about buying back the masters to release to the fans, but they basically told us no. That’s when our manager suggested we re-track it. So we decided to change things up and include it on the new album.

    The INXS song "Need You Tonight" was an interesting cover selection. How did this song make it on to the album?

    I’ve always loved INXS, and we used to do a heavy version of “Devil Inside." I remember wanting to do a cover of a Number 1 song for this album, so what I did was buy the Number 1 hits of the Eighties. I listened to every song from 1980 to 1990, trying to figure if any of them would work. I actually had no idea that “Need You Tonight” was one of the songs that went to Number 1. I loved it and knew right away it was the one to do!

    When did you know you wanted to have a career in music?

    The genesis of the whole thing actually began in high school. I had two friends who played guitar and piano and were starting a band. I didn't want to be left out so I had one of them teach me guitar. I learned the chords to “Fly by Night” by Rush and that was it. That’s when I was hooked and really started immersing myself in it. I started playing when I was 15 and about a year later was already doing four sets a night in bars. I even remember having to hide in the kitchen in between sets because we weren’t old enough to be in the bar when we weren’t playing [laughs].

    What’s your current setup like?

    I’ve had the same amp for 20 years now. It’s a 1990 Marshall 50-watt JCM 900. I’ve had to re-tube it over the years, and I like to run it through 75-watt 4x12 speakers because they don’t crunch out as much. For the past few albums, I’ll usually have my Les Paul as my main guitar and a newer 335 with the double coils. They sound like Les Pauls but are a little rounder.

    What gives you the most excitement about music?

    For me, it’s about playing and connecting with fans. There’s nothing like going into a rehearsal room or playing a gig, cracking open a beer, firing up the guitar and having that camaraderie with a band and audience. That’s really what it’s all about!

    For more about Kicking Harold, visit

    James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.

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    For more than 20 years, Boise, Idaho–based Built to Spill have been carving out a distinct niche in the rock and roll universe, balancing a tuneful, indie-pop aesthetic against a tendency to fly off on long, distorto-guitar excursions that recall the work of Dinosaur Jr’s J. Mascis and Neil Young in full-on Crazy Horse mode.

    The band’s new and eighth studio album, Untethered Moon, lays out this paradox right from the get-go—leadoff track “All Our Songs” builds to a finale that explodes in a skronky guitar lead (“I wanted it to sound like the Stooges or something, sorta belligerent” says singer and guitarist Doug Martsch), and doesn’t let up until closer “When I’m Blind,” which gives over roughly six of its eight-and-a-half minutes to Martsch to wring out as many frenzied notes from his Fender Strat as possible.

    Despite the multitude of tones and textures layered throughout these songs, Martsch recorded all the guitars on Untethered Moon on his own, accompanied only by the new BTS rhythm section of bassist Jason Albertini and drummer Steve Gere.

    “Though that changes from record to record,” he says about his guitar duties, pointing out that he sometimes utilizes additional players in the studio.

    “But this time I had the songs done, and I wanted to work on them with just the rhythm section to get stuff all figured out. I thought maybe I’d bring the other guys in at the end to put on some finishing touches, but by then it just seemed like it was fine and didn’t need anything else.”

    Those “other guys” are guitarists Brett Netson and Jim Roth, both of whom play with Built To Spill live. In fact, the band has long been known for its triple-guitar attack onstage, a configuration that helps to bring Martsch’s multifarious six-string studio work to life. “Most of our catalog, we’re kind of known for having a lot of textures in our songs,” he says. “There’s a lot going on. So it’s cool to be able to cover that stuff onstage.”

    As for the fact that Martsch has been able to pursue his unique vision for Built to Spill for close to a quarter century now, it’s something that the frontman says still amazes him. “I never dreamed of having even a shitty music career,” he says. “So to have one I feel pretty good about, that’s unbelievable to me.”

    Photo: Rene Gomez

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    The goal of any musician is to sing through his chosen instrument.

    And thankfully, advances in technology have made that possible- literally.

    In the 1970's, someone had the bright idea to take an amp's signal and run it in to the guitarist's mouth via a plastic tube, allowing him to, in a sense, speak to the audience through single notes. At the time, it blew the wah pedal out of the water.

    So what makes a great talk-box player? Good question.

    10. Bon Jovi, "Livin' on a Prayer"

    Damn, man! This is the Jovi at their funkiest! A round of applause to Richie Sambora for laying down some sweet-ass talk box over that rolling bass groove. Keep that dream alive!

    09. Mötley Crüe, "Kickstart My Heart"

    Mick Mars is not one of metal's more remarkable soloists. Yet he may have been the first to send a flurry of tremolo-picked notes flying out of his mouth. It's a sound as scary as his makeup.

    08. Nazareth, "Hair of the Dog"

    To some Scottish accents render words unintelligible. So while Nazareth guitarist Manny Charlton is probably just making electronic noises in the breakdown of this cock-rocker, there's a chance he's actually issuing a cry for Scottish independence.

    07. Weezer, "Beverly Hills"

    The talk box makes a comeback in the 21st century! Oddly, because the song hints at the excess of Seventies rock, Rivers Cuomo's talk-box embellishments feel totally appropriate. For some reason, Muppets come to mind when he cuts loose.

    06. Steely Dan, "Haitian Divorce"

    One of the most melodic talk-box solos ever recorded is also a prime example of studio trickery. Session man Dean Parks played the lead, but Walter Becker added the effect later- which required him essentially to ghost-play the exact same solo, and jack his jaw accordingly.

    05. Pink Floyd, "Pigs"

    David Gilmour was already one of the most articulate lead players in the prog-rock pantheon. Give him a talk box and... look out! He's literally wailing on this track; a string bend becomes a drawing syllable that never ends.

    04. Alice in Chains, "Man in the Box"

    Rather than using the talk box as other guitarists had—to make an ordinary solo sound like it was recorded by space aliens—Jerry Cantrell broke new ground by using it to "sing" harmonies with Layne Staley. Grunge reinvented some rock clichés for the better.

    03. Joe Walsh, "Rocky Mountain Way"

    This song is a classic not just for its chunky riff but also for how Walsh takes robot scat singing to new heights. Live clips reveal that Walsh really gets into his box work; you can actually see the drool dripping from the tube.

    02. Jeff Beck, "She's a Woman"

    Beck is a weird-guitar-sound pioneer, so it made perfect sense when he used the talk box to slur some syllables on this funked-up Beatles cover. Which raises the question: Is Blow by Blow truly an instrumental album?

    01. Peter Frampton, "Do You Feel Like We Do

    Not only is Frampton Comes Alive! one of the biggest-selling live albums of all time, but with its biggest hit Frampton singlehandedly increased the vocabulary of the talk box, spitting out phrases previously unattempted by guitarists and easily one-upping Beck on articulation. Just listen to how the audience roars when the guitar asks the immortal question: "Do you feel like we do?" Stoned, maybe?

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    Mark Tremonti is not the kind of guy who likes to sit still.

    Between his stint in Creed, his regular gig in Alter Bridge and with his latest project Tremonti, he consistently finds himself amidst a never-ending cycle of writing, recording and touring.

    It takes a tremendous amount of work ethic and drive to juggle two and sometimes three projects at a time, which is why it should hardly surprise anyone that he’s decided to record two simultaneous follow-up records to 2012’s All I Was rather than just one.

    Cauterize is the first of a set of two albums Tremonti recently laid down with the help of his backing band and producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette and will hit the shelves this summer. Another record, Dust, will follow along sometime thereafter.

    “I’ve always considered myself as more of a songwriter than a guitar player, and with this huge mountain of song ideas that I needed to whittle down, having a couple of bands to do that with really helps to get those songs to see the light of day.”

    A key addition this time around to the Tremonti recording unit was bassist Wolfgang Van Halen, who had spent the previous summer on the road with the group.

    “As soon as we started touring he was just kind of a member of the band,” says Tremonti. “He keeps the rhythm section super tight…and he’s just real creative. When Wolfgang was a part of the whole writing process he came up with things in his mind that by the time we went into the studio it was just perfectly laid down.”

    With so much material saved up, most other artists might have just released a double record and called it a day, but Tremonti’s old-school ideas of what an album is supposed to convey prevented him from taking that route.

    “A lot of times when I hear an album and it’s too long I feel like I lose track of the album,” he said. “I wanted this record to be concise, like so many of the albums I grew up listening to. A record you could live with for a year and a half before the next one comes out.”

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    The name says it all: Guitar World's 50 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time presents the 50 best as decided by the editors at Guitar World magazine, transcribed note-for-note.

    The 512-page book Includes:

    All Along the Watchtower
    All Day and All of the Night
    Bohemian Rhapsody
    Carry on Wayward Son
    Crazy Train
    Detroit Rock City
    Enter Sandman
    Free Bird
    Highway to Hell
    Hotel California
    Iron Man
    Pride and Joy
    School's Out
    Smells like Teen Spirit
    Smoke on the Water
    Sweet Child O' Mine
    Welcome to the Jungle
    You Really Got Me

    ... and more!

    The book is available now at the Guitar World Online Store for $35. Head there now for more info!

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    Here’s a really great video featuring the guitar playing sisterly duo of Grace and Chelsea Constable.

    Equipped with Taylor guitars (a nylon string 214ce-N for Grace and a 714ce for Chelsea), the Constables perform an incredible tribute to the legendary Jerry Reed.

    “Jerry’s Breakdown” is no walk in the park for even the most seasoned of fingerstyle guitarists, but Chelsea and Grace—only 13 years old—make it look easy!

    The two have already made quite a name for themselves in the guitar community, and as a bonus, below is another clip featuring a triple guitar assault with Tommy Emmanuel. Enjoy!

    Check out Chelsea’s Facebook page here.

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    Last month, we couldn't help but notice the appearance of several new YouTube videos about something called the Bumm Guitar.

    What is the Bumm Guitar, you ask?

    Based on the two videos below, which don't provide a lot of extra information, the Bumm Guitar is a single-cutaway acoustic guitar that's been heavily modified—to the point that it now features an onboard drum kit of sorts.

    It seems that while you're strumming or picking out notes, you also can use your thumb to touch one of seven mini-drum pads, each of which makes a unique percussion sound; it ultimately provides something similar to the sound of a full drum kit.

    We'll let the videos below do the talking, or the bumming.

    For more about the Bumm Guitar—and Pensen Paletti, the guitarist in the videos—follow Paletti on Facebook.

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    One of the most important things I can discuss with people who want to become session players is how they need to take a good long look at those who have gone before.

    In the photo gallery below is a list of some of my faves—and a brief description of each player.

    Some may be familiar, others may be obscure. Some are still active, some have gone on to that soundstage in the sky. No matter, we are looking at some of the top players of recent recorded history. Listen to them, study them, learn from them.

    And now, in the photo gallery below, I offer up my top 10 session guitarists.

    Let me know if you think I've missed anyone! Let’s hear some of your favorites.

    Ron Zabrocki on Ron Zabrocki:I’m a session guitarist from New York, now living in Connecticut. I started playing at age 6, sight reading right off the bat. That’s how I was taught, so I just believed everyone started that way! I could pretty much sight read anything within a few years, and that aided me in becoming a session guy later in life. I took lessons from anyone I could and was fortunate enough to have some wonderful instructors, including John Scofield, Joe Pass and Alan DeMausse. I’ve played many jingle sessions, and even now I not only play them but have written a few. I’ve “ghosted” for a few people that shall remain nameless, but they get the credit and I got the money! I’ve played sessions in every style, from pop to jazz.

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